Influencers from Around the World – How NOT to Sell a Dishwasher


This week you’ll read a funny story about how
not to sell. It comes to us all the way from Italy and is based on the real
life experience of Marco Germani. Marco has written guest posts for me for
about three years now. I think you’ll see humor in his situation and the value
a good salesperson can bring to customers. Along the way you’ll also get
several tips on how to be a better salesperson.
Brian, CMCT®
Helping You Learn to Hear “Yes”.
How NOT to Sell a Dishwasher
A few weeks ago I went to a large household
appliance shop in Rome with the intention of buying a new dishwasher. I have
almost zero knowledge about this kind of machine but didn’t have time to perform
an accurate search on the Internet. Because I didn’t understand which would be
the best buy for me (among the dozens of models exhibited), I decided to rely
on the advice of the store clerk.
I approached the clerk with this question, “In
your opinion, which is the machine with the best quality/price ratio?” From this
point forward the guy presented himself in one of the worst sales performances
I have ever seen in my life. It was so bad I decided to write an article for
this blog about it. Let’s sum up the main mistakes he made:
1. MISTAKE: He asked no questions.
In reply to this question the clerk started to
list all the brands and models the store had in stock. He should have asked me
a few questions instead in order to better understand my specific needs in
terms of a dishwasher.
“Why are you buying a new machine today?”
“Did the old one failed and if so, why?”
“How often do you wash your dishes and how
many people in the household?”
There were some basic questions I expected him
to ask but he didn’t. It’s like going to the doctor and the doctor just starts
listing all the drugs available without first investigating your symptoms, Not
2. MISTAKE: He was completely unprepared on
the products.
The machines available in the store ranged in
price from 300 to 1,500 Euro. While it was quite easy, even for the untrained
eye, to spot a difference between the most expensive machine and the cheapest
one, it was surely more tricky to understand the difference between a machine
of the same size, priced at 500 Euro vs. one priced at 650 Euro. At one point I
asked him about the difference between two machines, which happened to be the
same brand, that had an 85 Euro price difference. This should not be a
difficult question for somebody who makes a living out of selling these types
of appliances! His answer was, “I guess the more expensive one has more washing
programs.” I thought to myself, “You’re paid to guess rather than to provide
information.” Trying to go a bit deeper into the question I soon realized his
knowledge of the products was close to mine, which made him almost completely
3. MISTAKE: He presented the prices in the
wrong order.
Not knowing how to move forward, I tried a
different question, “Which one would you buy for your family?” He told me he
would have probably bought a Bosch machine priced 659 Euro or an Ariston
machine priced 779 Euro, or why not the Candy machine priced at 809 Euro. Had
he knew the basics about how to present a price, he would have started the list
with the most expensive one and he could have answered in the following way, “
I would surely buy the Candy, at 810 Euro. It definitely has the best
quality/price ratio and in 20 years it will work as smoothly as it does today.
I do understand, however, it is a bit on the expensive side so an alternative
might be the Ariston at 779 Euro because it’s a very good machine indeed. It’s close
in performances and consumption to the first one.” With this kind of
presentation, the 779 Euro of the Ariston would have appeared to be a good deal
had I not opted for the more expensive machine.
4. MISTAKE: He did not close the sale.
At this stage, I was seriously thinking about
leaving the store and going somewhere else so I told him I just wanted to think
about it. The guy said okay and left me there so he could “assist” another
customer. As he left he told me to call him if I needed him. Very bad! That’s absolutely
the best way to lose the sale. He should have asked something like, “Exactly, what
do you want to think about? Is it the price or something else?” He could have
asked, “Is there any way I can help you think about it? Do you need some
additional information?” In other words, you never want to leave your customer,
who already gave you buying signals, on his own before you even tried to close
the sale.
I really needed the machine (the old one
failed and washing dishes by the hand is not in the list of my favorite leisure
activities and my wife claims to be allergic to dish soap) so I ended up buying
a mid-priced machine and left feeling unsure as to whether or not I’d done the
right thing. With a more skilled clerk I probably would have spent more and
felt better about it. I wonder how much money that shop is losing every day
because of an incompetent salesman? Poor salesmen like the guy I encountered is
good news for those who study sales and the principles of persuasion. Studying
those two disciplines will help salespeople bring more value than a regular
store clerk who’s never spent time studying either subject and the end result
will be significantly better sales.
Marco Germani
1 reply
  1. Anthony McLean
    Anthony McLean says:

    Marco has done a good job at highlighting some simple and easy to apply tools and strategies to engage and move someone in your direction. The beauty of this article is nothing Marco is suggesting costs loads of money to execute, in fact it doesn't cost anything at all. Rather it is eliciting the attitude and needs of the buyer and working with them to create momentum; not to stifle and leave the buyer feeling remorseful. Persuasion like sales is considered by some an assumed skill. It is far from it and as this example shows, ask the salesman and he would reflect on his sales figures and if low would probably blame the economy rather than reflect on his ability and skills. As Marco highlights, how much is this business costing themselves because they do not monitor the persuasiveness of the staff and their ability to close a sale? Great article.


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